Kalash – The Jewel of Chitral Valley
Kalash Valley is located in the southwest side of district Chitral of province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Kalash valley is the home of the Kafir-Kalash also known as “Wearers of the Black Robe”, a primitive pagan tribe. The 3,000 strong Kafir-Kalash live in the three different valleys, which are named as Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir. These valleys are renowned for Kalash people which are oldest tribe of South Asia. Throughout the world, Kalash people are well known for their exclusive festivals, culture, way of living, religion and language. The language of Kalash people is Kalasha. The Kalash tribe in Pakistan is possibly the smallest but one of the most glorious ethnic groups of Pakistan in terms of their eminent and rich cultural background. Kalash tribe is well- known for their inimitable traditions and customs. Their area is geographically known as Kafiristan. The three valleys with their native people are one of the foremost reasons for Chitral to be very famed for tourism.
Bumburet is the most picturesque and largest valley of the Kafir Kalash. It is 36 km from Chitral and probably 20 kilometers from the village of Ayun Valley. It connected to Chitral by a jeep-able road. Most of the tourists visit it first as it is most ideal valley of tourists visiting Kalash. There are several motels available for tourists here and famous among all is PTDC motel. The second largest valley of Kalash is Rambur. It is 32 km from Chitral and about 12 kilometers from Ayun Valley. The road to Rambur is jeep-able. For visiting the Kalash valleys, permits are required for the foreign tourists. Deputy Commissioner, Chitral issues free of cost permits. Domestic visitors have to pay a toll tax of Rs.1.0 per person while Re. 10 per person is charged from foreign tourists. A road turning right on the way between Ayun Valley and Bumburet leads to Rumbur, which is located at an altitude of 7203 feet above sea level. This valley is renowned for its picturesque views and undisturbed natural incredible nature’s beauty. Among all valleys, Birir is the smallest. It is situated at an altitude of 5476 feet above sea level. At a distance of 34 km, Brir lies at the southern most edge of Chitral and is easily reachable by jeep-able road through Ayun. It is particularly preferred by the people not used to trekking.
Kalash live in small villages near the banks of streams, built on the hillsides. Because of the steepness of the slopes, their houses are are double storeyed and are constructed of rough-hewn logs. Kalash are very lively people and are famous for their lively religious festivals. Their picturesque headgear is prepared by woolen black material which is crowned with a large colored feather and adorned out with cowrie shells, beads and buttons. Even today in certain parts of Greece, some women sport a similar head covering. The Kalash people love dancing and music especially on occasions of their religious festivals like Chowas (18th to 21st December), Joshi Chilimjusht (14th & 15th May – spring) and Phool (20th – 25th September). The valleys of Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir have an alpine climate. Origin of the people inhabiting these valleys is concealed in controversy. A legend narrates that soldiers from the legions of the Macedonian conqueror, Alexander, established in Chitral and are the predecessors of the Kalash.